CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University student is still in critical condition after police say a man drove impaired last week and crashed into her car, and a friends are raising money to pay for her medical bills.
On Thursday afternoon, Benton County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested 29-year-old Matthew Cannard of McMinville on DUII and reckless driving charges, after they say he drove through a red light and crashed into Jessica Neffendorf’s vehicle outside of Corvallis.
“I feel like her life has been put on pause,” said Neffendorf’s boyfriend, Shane Potter. “If not taken away.”
Potter says his girlfriend is still in the Intensive Care Unit at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis.
“It’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart because she’s my son’s – it’s the love of his life,” said Sam Potter, Shane’s father.
“Once I heard that Jessica had gotten in this horrific accident, I thought, what can I do to help?”
Sam Potter drove to Corvallis from Vancouver, Wa. on Wednesday not only to visit Neffendorf, but to help out.
“I purchased the domain name: www.jessicaneffendorf.com,” he said. “I know there’s obviously medical bills, and things like that that are going to pile up and it often times adds another tragedy onto one that was already there when it affects so many peoples’ lives.”
He started a medical fund for Neffendorf and her family.
“It was the last thing that Shane or her family needed to worry about,” Potter said. “They need to be in there with her.”
Shane says his girlfriend has been making a lot of improvements.
“She’s done really well with all her surgeries. All of her abdomen injuries and internal bleeding has been solved. The doctors have done such a great job here. I’m a realistic person and she’s really given me a lot of hope.”
Now, they’re focusing on her head injuries.
“Patience has been something that we’ve had to practice,” Shane said. “It’s been difficult but you know, we’ve had to do it.”
He says Neffendorf has been blinking, opening and closing her mouth, and gripping his hand.
“It’s the little successes that we’re building off of,” he said. “And those moments mean everything. Being next to her and having those little breaths of life.”
Shane says since the crash on Thursday, he hasn’t left the hospital.
“Today was the first time I went home and that was to get a new change of clothes. So I’ve literally been here at the hospital the entire time.”
Never leaving her side.
“And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m never going to leave her side.”
Shane says if he has one message for the public, it is to never drive impaired.
“This stuff is real,” he said. “I never thought it would happen to me and it’s hit me straight in the center of the heart. So I want people to be really aware of what it can do.”
Donations can be made to the Jessica Neffendorf Foundation by clicking here. You can also make a donation at any US Bank in the country.
“Give what you can,” Sam Potter said. “And if you can’t afford money, give her your prayers. Because she needs your prayers too.”